The Washington Nationals without Bryce Harper? That’s hard to picture. And as it turns out, he thinks so too. But the 25-year-old slugger could play his last game in Nationals Park Wednesday afternoon.
Really? The face of the franchise gone just like that? Well…
Harper, who will hit free agency for the first time this offseason, said he would love to stay with the team. But the final decision may not be his, according to Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post.
“I think about other cities, but I love it here,” Harper said to the Washington Post. “Am I in the plans, you know? I don’t know. It’s hard to think about, because it’s all you know, and then you think about it, it’s like, ‘Well, it could all be over in a second.’ It’s kind of crazy.”
The franchise that brought a 19-year-old superstar to the forefront might decide to part ways with the talent. Though, nothing is certain just yet. Nationals GM Mike Rizzo has said the team wants to keep Harper around. But he also noted he wasn’t sure what the team’s vision of the future needed, and if that included Bryce.
Obviously both parties will have to come to an agreement, but Harper is making it clear he wants to stay in D.C. It may not be up to him, though, and he acknowledges that.
“I’ve always said: If I’m in those plans, I’d absolutely love to be here,” Harper said. “But if I’m not, there’s nothing I can do about it. There’s nothing I can do.”
The right-fielder debuted with the Washington Nationals in 2012. He earned Rookie of the Year honors that season, and won MVP in 2015 when he hit .330 with 42 home runs plus an OPS of 1.109 in 153 games.
In 154 games this season — potentially his last as a Nat — he’s hitting .245 with 34 home runs and 100 RBI.
While it’s unclear what the future holds for Harper, the slugger must prepare for the potential “lasts” and goodbyes. In a season where Harper won the Home Run Derby in fairy-tale fashion — in front of a home crowd at Nationals Park — he must prepare for new opportunities. With the Nationals out of contention, Harper’s days as a Nat could be dwindling quickly.